Skip to main content

NC State Extension

What Are Local Food Systems

en Español / em Português

El inglés es el idioma de control de esta página. En la medida en que haya algún conflicto entre la traducción al inglés y la traducción, el inglés prevalece.

Al hacer clic en el enlace de traducción se activa un servicio de traducción gratuito para convertir la página al español. Al igual que con cualquier traducción por Internet, la conversión no es sensible al contexto y puede que no traduzca el texto en su significado original. NC State Extension no garantiza la exactitud del texto traducido. Por favor, tenga en cuenta que algunas aplicaciones y/o servicios pueden no funcionar como se espera cuando se traducen.


Inglês é o idioma de controle desta página. Na medida que haja algum conflito entre o texto original em Inglês e a tradução, o Inglês prevalece.

Ao clicar no link de tradução, um serviço gratuito de tradução será ativado para converter a página para o Português. Como em qualquer tradução pela internet, a conversão não é sensivel ao contexto e pode não ocorrer a tradução para o significado orginal. O serviço de Extensão da Carolina do Norte (NC State Extension) não garante a exatidão do texto traduzido. Por favor, observe que algumas funções ou serviços podem não funcionar como esperado após a tradução.


English is the controlling language of this page. To the extent there is any conflict between the English text and the translation, English controls.

Clicking on the translation link activates a free translation service to convert the page to Spanish. As with any Internet translation, the conversion is not context-sensitive and may not translate the text to its original meaning. NC State Extension does not guarantee the accuracy of the translated text. Please note that some applications and/or services may not function as expected when translated.

Collapse ▲

On This Page

What Are Local Food Systems
Local Food Research
State Organizations & Listservs

What are Local Food Systems?

Though there is no generally agreed upon definition for ‘local’ food or ‘local food systems’ (Martinez, et al, 2010), the language of local food systems generally refers to the geographic context in which food is produced, marketed, and consumed and all other intermediary supply chain steps taking food from farm to table. Additionally, localized food systems are place-specific and seek to embed the production, distribution, and consumption of foods in community relationships. Farms, from large to small and from conventional to certified organic, are finding opportunities to engage in the local foods market opportunities across the supply chain in the state.

The US Department of Agriculture has linked local foods to many of its key priorities such as food access and nutrition, enhancing rural economies, the environment, addressing consumer demand, and improving profitability of agricultural producers and strengthening markets. The USDA recognizes that consumer demand for local foods has been growing in recent years and that federal, state and local policies are responding. A recent congressional mandated report states, “Producer participation in local food systems is growing, and the value of local food sales, defined as the sale of food for human consumption through both direct-to-consumer (e.g., farmers’ markets) and intermediated marketing channels (e.g., sales to institutions or regional distributors), appears to be increasing.”  (Low et al 2015)

Practically, many local food system efforts in North Carolina also include a focus on nutrition and health or community development, from community and school gardening to economic development to food justice. Therefore, beyond the supply chain, support for local and community-based food systems is far reaching and far ranging. This web portal is intended to share the breadth of the field of work and research, and also to provide connections to resources and information to those working to support developing local food systems.


Low, Sarah A., Aaron Adalja, Elizabeth Beaulieu, Nigel Key, Steve Martinez, Alex Melton, Agnes Perez, Katherine Ralston, Hayden Stewart, Shellye Suttles, Stephen Vogel, and Becca B.R. Jablonski. Trends in U.S. Local and Regional Food Systems, AP-068, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, January 2015. 

Martinez, Steve, et al. (2010). Local Food Systems: Concepts, Impacts, and Issues, ERR-97, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. 

Local Food Research

We compile current research and annotated bibliographies related to local food to provide the best information to practitioners across the state.

State Organizations & Listservs

  • Departments, Centers, and Partner Organizations
  • North Carolina Local Food-related Listservs
    • growingsmall farms – Discussion/support group for small farmers in NC. To request addition to the list send your request to
    • local-foods-action-plan – A statewide listserv to facilitate a local food economy and promote all aspects of local foods. See the instructions for joining this listserv.
    • ncchoices – A moderated listserv sharing educational and marketing opportunities for farmers raising pasture-based animals, especially those that involve local marketing of meats to consumers and wholesale buyers. See the instructions for joining this listserv.
    • nccommunitygarden – Connects those interested in community gardening in North Carolina. Sign up.
    • nc-farmers-market – Listserv developed to facilitate communications among individuals interested in farmers’ markets. To request addition to the list send your request to
    • NC Farm to School Coalition – A statewide listserv to facilitate shared ideas and resources on any topic related to Farm to School. See the instructions for joining this listserv.
    • newfarmtrainerSE – Connects those who provide training and/or technical assistance to new and beginning farmers in North Carolina and across the southeast US. Sign up.
    • pasturedpoultry  – A listserv for producers and others interested in pastured poultry. To request addition to the list send your request to

Note: The use of brand names in this web portal does not imply endorsement by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service of the products or services named nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned.